Schwarzenegger video of the week

This week, something serious and timely. I don’t know how much of it you can take, but here — in four parts — is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger engaged in a discussion of the economy with investor and world’s richest person Warren Buffet, moderated by MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, at The Women’s Conference 2008 last week in Long Beach.

Previous SVOTWs: October 21, October 14, October 7, September 30, September 23, September 16, September 9, September 2, August 26, August 19, August 12, August 5, July 29, July 22, July 8, July 1, June 24, June 17, June 10, June 3, May 27, May 20, May 13, May 6, April 29, April 22, April 15, April 8, April 1, March 25, March 18, March 11, March 4, February 26, February 19, February 12, February 5, January 29, January 22, January 15, January 8, January 1, December 25, December 18, December 11, December 4, November 27, November 20, November 13, November 6, October 30, October 23, October 16, October 9, October 2, September 25, September 18, September 11, September 4, August 28, August 21, August 7, July 31, July 24, July 17, July 10, July 3, June 26, June 19, June 12, June 5, May 29, May 22, May 15, May 8, May 1, April 24, April 17, April 10, April 3, March 27, March 20, March 13, March 6, February 27, February 20, February 13, February 6, January 30.


Sarah Palin: Pallin’ around with a convicted felon?

Much has been made of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin saying in her stump speech that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was someone apt to “pal around with terrorists.”

I’m curious to see what she’ll say about today’s conviction of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaksa, on seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial documents about gifts he received from contractor Bill Allen, oil services company VECO Corp., and others.

After all, Palin from 2003 to 2005 was a director of “Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service Inc.,” a “section 527” independent political committee that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors and was aimed at serving as a political boot camp for Republican women in Alaska. And Palin and Stevens were expressing their mutual admiration as recently as July:

Does Palin believe Stevens, who until today has been in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mark Begich, should resign from office? If he beats Begich — which seems less likely as today’s news breaks, Stevens could stay in the Senate while appealing his convictions; such appeals would have to be exhausted before the ethics committee would move to expel him.

So, if a candidate’s associations — be they past or present, distant or quite familiar — are on the table in this election as Palin and John McCain have repeatedly insisted, how much of a maverick will Palin be today?

UPDATE @ 4:03 P.M.: Answer — not much. “I’m confident Senator Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska,” Palin said in a statement.

UPDATE @ 5:21 P.M.: Christopher Scott Simmonds, formerly of Oakland and now of Rancho Cordova, called in with the astute, ironic observation that Stevens remains eligible to vote in the Senate, yet as a convicted felon is no longer eligible to vote in this election Nov. 4. But Alaska’s early voting began a week ago; who’ll take the bet that he already cast his ballot?


Documents from the alleged plot against Obama

Here are the criminal complaint and the affidavit filed against two men accused of plotting a racist murder spree and an attempt on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s life. And here is the U.S. Justice Department’s news release, in its entirety and verbatim:

Jackson, TN — Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Arkansas were charged in a federal Complaint, Friday, October 24, 2008 announced Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, James Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Richard Harlow, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service- Memphis Field Office and Troy Klyce, Sheriff of Crockett County. The Criminal Complaint charges Cowart and Schlesselman with the illegal Possession of a Sawed off Shotgun, Conspiracy to Rob a Federal Firearms Licensee, and Making Threats Against a Major Candidate for the Office of President.

“The allegations set forth in this Criminal Complaint are serious and will be treated as such, “ said Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. “ The public can rest assured that federal, state, and local law enforcement are diligently working together to investigate and prosecute the alleged activity.”

According to the Complaint, approximately one month ago, Cowart and Schlesselman met via the internet through a mutual friend and both claim to have very strong beliefs regarding “White Power” and “Skinhead” philosophy. Cowart and Schlesselman began discussing going on a “killing spree”. The Complaint further alleges that Cowart and Schlesselman discussed robbing a gun shop (Federal Firearms Licensee) in order to gather weapons and ammunition. The Complaint notes the defendants were in possession of a sawed off shotgun.

On October 20, 2008, Cowart allegedly traveled from Tennessee to Arkansas to pick up Schlesselman in order to carry out their plan. The Complaint states that at this time, the defendants further discussed their killing spree to include targeting a predominately African American School and to continue their spree until their final act of violence which would be to attempt to assassinate Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. “The United States Secret Service takes all threats against Presidential Candidates seriously and is actively investigating the allegations,” said Richard Harlow, Special Agent in Charge of the Secret Service-Memphis Field Office. “The Secret Service does not comment on this type of investigation.”

The Complaint further notes that the defendants stated that they would be willing to die during this attempt. According to the Complaint, after soliciting a friend, to drive their car, between 11:00pm on October 21, 2008 and 2:00am on October 22, 2008, the defendants made plans to rob a house but were diverted when they arrived and observed a dog and two cars at the location. Cowart and Schlesselman then dropped the friend back off at home and then went to a local retail store and allegedly purchased nylon rope and two ski masks.

“It is critical that the alleged plot was interrupted,” said James Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge of ATF. “We give credit to the Deputies of Crockett and Haywood Counties. All forces of law enforcement have come together to stop this threat.”

The Defendants were arrested on October 22, 2008 by the Crockett County Sheriff’s Office. “Once we arrested the defendants and suspected they had violated federal law, we immediately contacted federal authorities, “ said Sheriff Troy Klyce of Crockett County. “The Sheriff’s Department is committed to keeping Crockett County a safe place for our all of citizens.”

Cowart and Schlesselman had their Initial Appearances in Federal Court today and are scheduled to be back in court for a Detention Hearing on October 30, 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee.

This case is being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives- Memphis Office, the United States Secret Service-Memphis Field Office, with the assistance of the Crockett County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Butt says he was scammed, wink, wink

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt says he inadvertently blasted a forged letter singing the praises of Measure T, purportedly from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has been adamantly opposed to Measure T, which would levy a tax on the value of materials used in manufacturing.

In an updated email to his vast network of email subscribers, he says he was scammed. But he doesn’t sound too terribly sorry about it. It’s unlikely, after all, that Butt really believed the chamber had changed its position when he sent out the fake.

But here’s what Butt wrote:

“When I received a copy of a letter from a long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce appearing to support Measure, imagine my excitement! I wanted to share it with E-FORUM readers.

Well, it turns out that the letter was a fake. Apparently the original letter was emailed to Chamber members as an editable WORD file, and the Chamber member who sent it to me was disgruntled about the Chamber’s position on Measure T, which appeared to have been written by Chevron. “The devil made me do it, ” he said. “I just couldn’t bear to see my Chamber dues used to promote a political position I didn’t agree with.”

The scammer went on to say, “It’s okay if the Chamber’s political action committee, RichPAC, wants to campaign against Measure T; that’s not my money. But when they send out campaign literature on the Chamber’s letterhead, signed by the Chamber president, that’s going too far.”

“Anyway,” the scammer said, “It’s almost Halloween, and this was sort of a trick or treat visit to the Chamber Office. They declined the treat, and they got the trick.”

It reminded me of the Chamber’s last campaign against the 2006 Measure T, where the City Council subsequently directed the City to withdraw it’s $10,000 premium membership in the Chamber.

At any rate, the E-FORUM has completed its investigation and found the letter to be bogus. We apologize for this error and for any inconvenience it may have caused the Chamber of Commerce. Please delete the subject email and its attachment.

In the end, it seems the Chamber of Commerce was not the Chamber we wish we had but instead the Chevron-controlled Chamber we’ve got.”


Pete Stark’s wife to head national pre-K initiative

Pre-K Now — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for high-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten for all three and four year olds — has announced that Deborah Roderick Stark will lead “Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K,” which it described as “a new initiative to research best practices for engaging families in pre-k programs and to advance state policies that support those practices.”

Stark, 41, a San Lorenzo native with extensive experience in early-childhood education, is the wife of Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, with whom she has three children; she’s also a member of the First 5 Alameda County Commission.

Funded by the Picower Foundation, the new program aims to “highlight the fundamental role family involvement plays during the early learning years and the need for states to actively promote it,” according to a news release.

“Without a doubt, parent engagement in pre-k improves children’s successes in school and life,” Stark said in the release. “The pre-k years are not just the best time for teaching early learning skills; this is also the best time for educators to actively engage family members, reinforcing the notion that they are their child’s first and most important teachers.”

Engaged Families, Effective Pre-K will launch an 18-month listening tour involving families of 3- and 4-year-old children, in order to learn more about needs, opportunities and challenges faced during the early learning years. It’ll also convene a national panel of experts to review research on family engagement, identify promising practices and develop action steps that states can take to support meaningful family engagement in state-funded pre-k.

“When pre-k is done right, families benefit too, because from day one, they learn about the enduring role they’ll play in their child’s education,” Stark said.


Website features Obama pumpkin-carving

YesWeCarve.com pumpkin by Laura Enman

YesWeCarve.com pumpkin by Laura Enman

A reader just called and told me to check out YesWeCarve.com, a website featuring pumpkin carvings of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

The picture on the right was identified as the work of Laura Enman of Oakland.


If you are so inclined, upload photos of your own Obama carvings to the site or download stencils.

Anyone know of a comparable site for Republican nominee John McCain?